LTA amends changes to bus services in Bukit Panjang
Some services will still be removed, but existing routes will be altered to plug the gap
Planned changes to bus services in Bukit Panjang will be amended after the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and MPs discussed ways to cushion the impact of the changes on commuters.
The authorities last week said four bus services plying along the MRT Downtown Line (DTL) - which runs from Bukit Panjang to the Singapore Expo - will either stop operating or be rerouted by Sunday.
To allow bus operators more time to prepare for the adjustments, current bus routes will now continue until Aug 30.
In announcing the changes earlier, the LTA sought commuters' understanding by citing the need for financial prudence, with ridership for these parallel bus services falling since the DTL began operating in 2015.
But three public petitions, and the intervention of Senior Minister of State for Transport Chee Hong Tat and other MPs, led to negotiations.
Mr Chee and the MPs yesterday posted on Facebook the compromise they had reached.
While bus services 700 and 700A will still be removed, routes from existing buses will be altered to plug the gap, ensuring residents in Petir Road - one of the most affected by the changes - will still have a direct service to town during peak hours.
Service 972, which links Bukit Panjang to Orchard Road and was set to be rerouted to Newton MRT station, will continue to ply its old route so fares and travelling time are unaffected.
However, a portion of service 972 buses will still be redirected to Scotts Road and Newton MRT station in a new service 972M, which could mean a longer wait time as there will be fewer buses for each service.
Still, the agreed-upon measures directly addressed the two main grouses of residents, namely the connectivity between Petir Road and town, and the additional travelling time that the rerouting of service 972 would have caused.
With the current peak-hour express service 971E converted to a peak-hour non-express service 971 to link Petir Road to the city, commuters will also pay less and be taken closer to their destinations as there will be more stops.
Said Bukit Panjang MP Liang Eng Hwa: "Bukit Panjang Town has the benefit of the three modes of public transport to serve our residents and we intend to keep it that way.
"Buses will remain an essential mode of transport for our residents and we will continue to work with LTA to improve services."
LTA has given assurances to MPs and residents that more buses will be added if there is crowding or long waiting times.
Bukit Panjang resident Elliot Lin, who started one of the three petitions, said he recognised the effort that had gone into finalising the solution.
However, the 35-year-old realtor said the new 972M service should also pass through Petir Road so residents there can still have a direct bus service to town during non-peak hours.
"That would cut travelling time by about 15 minutes. Instead, we now have to take bus service 973 to the DTL station for a transfer," he said.
LTA has said there will be more buses for service 973 to increase its frequency.
Mr Chee and Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung earlier said the affected bus services and DTL need heavy government subsidies and there is a need for prudence in spending public funds.
Mr Chee said yesterday: "I seek everyone's understanding that we need some give and take in such situations, to cater to different groups of commuters while ensuring prudent use of public funds."
- 971E will be converted to 971. The new service will take Petir Road before entering Bukit Timah Expressway and Pan-Island Expressway. It will plug the gap of service 700 and provide a direct link to town during peak hours.
- 971 will run for extended hours from 6.30am to 8.30am, and 6.05pm to 7.35pm. It will no longer be an express service. Fares will drop by up to 60 cents.
- 972 will no longer be rerouted.
- A portion of buses will be redirected to new service 972M, which will ply along Dunearn Road and Scotts Road, to allow commuters in Dunearn and Bukit Timah roads to stay connected to Scotts Road and Newton MRT station.
- Where necessary, the frequency of 972 and 972M will be increased during peak hours.
- Both 972 and 972M connect to town.
- 973, which connects residents in Petir Road to Hillview MRT station, will have its frequency increased.
- 700 and 700A will be removed.
- 171 shortened as planned .
- THE STRAITS TIMES